Yerevan Environmental Issues: “The City Turned into a Gray Territory Covered with Stones”
The political forces participating in Yerevan Council of Elders make different promises as solutions to environmental issues in their pre-election programs.

If the amount of green space in the capital is 8 square meters per capita, they offer to bring this figure up to 17-20 square meters within the next five years.
For the fight against pollution in the city and environmental health issues, two of these forces, “Yelq” Alliance and “Yerkir Tsirani” Party, are ready to consider the issue of the closure of the mines operated in Yerevan.
Diana Grigoryan, Chief Specialist of Environment Department of the Yerevan Municipality (Republican Party), Ani Samsonyan, Yelk Alliance, Hayk Petrosyan, “Yerkir Tsirani” Party and Victoria Burnazyan, Expert at “Ecolur” NGO, participated in a discussion about the environmental issues.
Representing the activities of Yerevan Municipality in the environmental sector, Diana Grigoryan noted that during the last 5 years, considerable work has been done towards the rehabilitation and expansion of green areas. “As a result, 1-capita green area reached 8 square meters from 5.2,” he said, adding that green space should reach the European standards, 17 square meters of green area per capita.
“During 5 years, Yerevan Municipality recovered 14 parks which are recreation areas for the administrative districts. Within the concept of the balanced development, they are distributed among the districts,” she said.
Grigoryan said that in the case of the victory of the Republican Party in the elections they will proceed with their activities. “Such projects are prospective; they are for 10-20 years. They should be completed which means creating new green areas, expansion of irrigation system, creating deep wells. A new operator of landscaping may start working which can propose activities of European standards such as creation of green areas,” she said.
Ani Samsonyan says that because of illegal construction, logging and the environmental situation in the capital caused as a result have turned the city into a gray area covered with stones.
“When you look at Yerevan from the roof of a building, you realize that you live in the city of gray stones. Generally, green areas and trees are priority in overcrowded and big cities. In recent years, many green areas were destroyed and thousands of trees were cut down for the construction of residential buildings and open cafes. The gardens have turned into dusty construction sites, parks have turned into shopping centers,” Samsonyan said, adding that in the case of the victory of “Yelk” 500 000 trees will be planted and an urban forest will be established.
As a reply to the question how much money the forest creation will require and where they will find the amount, Samsonyan said: “That money is possible to find in the case of the efficient use of the capital budget and avoiding the luxury on purchases and receptions of the Municipality.”
He also considered the issue of expansion of green areas to be an urgent issue, noting that the city is "like a semi-desert zone." “Because of the lack of green areas the level of air pollution has increased, in recent years, people have been complaining about the abundance of snakes, scorpions and insects,” Ani Samsonyan said.
Hayk Petrosyan said that any issue can be solved in Yerevan if there is the political will. “When the city authorities have the political the sequence of steps and solutions developed with the help of experts is easy to implement,” he said, as a solution to the environmental problem brought the example of USA Las Vegas. “Las Vegas is a desert town but unlike Yerevan that is a semi-desert town, there is no dust,” Hayk Petrosyan said.
According to him, for solving the environment and public health issues, the closure of the mines operated openly should be considered. In addition, in their opinion, Hrazdan Gorge should be unloaded from various food places and restaurants. “The wastewater of the majority of restaurants enters the river and there is no place for recreation in the gorge,” he said.

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